Posted by: jblevins | March 28, 2009

Fifth Sunday of Lent

This year, we invite you to include as part of your Lenten practices to consider your impact upon God’s Creation – and what steps you can take in your own life to bring yourself back into relationship with it. Each Sunday, we will send an email including the lectionary text for that week, a brief reflection, some study questions, and then daily actions.

Henry Nouwen writes, “In the midst of a turbulent, often chaotic, life we are called to reach out with courageous honesty to our innermost self, with restless care to our fellow human beings, and with increasing prayer to our God. To do that, however, we must face and explore our inner restlessness, our mixed feelings toward others, and our deep-seated suspicions about the absence of God.” It is this journey that Lent is all about, and this year, we invite you to join us in it.

Click here to download our reflection for the fifth Sunday in Lent in PDF form.

Lectionary Text: Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NRSV)

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband,* says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Other Lectionary Readings: Psalm 51; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33

Reflection

A little later in the book of Hebrews than our text for this week (Chapter 8), this Jeremiah passage is cited, with the naming of Jesus Christ as the new covenant of God – the covenant that is written on our hearts. What does this mean? It means we have the challenge of living in this way – of knowing, in our hearts, what we are supposed to do.

We are living with the knowledge that God has forgiven us – our sins are no longer remembered. The challenge is then to live lives reflective of that. To be able to get past what we have done, and begin to re-imagine what could be. To view the world with the mind of Christ – with the covenant that is on our hearts. Recognizing that we live as forgiven beings, transformed through the covenant of God being written on our hearts, changes the way we live with the world and interact with the world.

It doesn’t mean that we are going to get it right all the time, but it means when we get it wrong, we are forgiven. It means we live in a world in the midst of constant transformation. And it means that we should be asking the question, in all that we do, whether or not we are living out this covenant. When we are deciding how to get to place to place, what do buy at the grocery store, whether or not to recycle that bottle … our decisions should be reflective of having the covenant of God on our hearts – at the core of our being.

Guiding Questions

1. How does it change what is possible for you, knowing that you sins are forgotten?

2. Combine this ability to live transformed lives with the challenge in our gospel passage about not loving our lives. What does this say to you in terms of how you make decisions on a day to day basis?

Daily Actions – The goal of the actions for this week are to consider how our lives can be more reflective of the covenant on our hearts – from our personal commitment, to the way our government makes laws, to our personal connection with God, to our energy use.

Sunday, March 29th Spend some time in reflection with the passages above, and the reflections. Center yourself for the Lenten journey.

Monday, March 30th Part of a covenant is a commitment on our part. Click here to join our carbon reduction campaign, and commit yourself to taking concrete steps toward living with the heart of God.

Tuesday, March 31stInvolve your church in considering how taking care of God’s Creation is a vital part of this covenant, by using our 2009 Earth Day resource – Celebrating and Caring for God’s Creation. Click here for a free download.

Wednesday, April 1stOn this April Fools Day, we remember how two years ago, Congress approved the waiving of more than 35 laws in order to expedite the building of the Border Fence, including the Endangered Species Act. Click here for more information, and click here to take action and call attention to this issue.

Thursday, April 2nd Return to the lectionary texts for this week. What new emerges from a second reading of them? Try reading them with a group, seeing what new insights come forth.

Friday, April 3rdThis past week, Congress passed legislation creating the National Landscape Conservation System – making permanent protections for over 26 million acres of God’s Creation. Click here to read more, and here to explore these areas you can go to sit with and experience God.

Saturday, March 28th This week, the EPA took steps at reducing Mountaintop Removal Mining – protecting communities, streams and rivers, and acres of land. The Appalachia Restoration Act was also introduced in the Senate. Click here for more information on Mountaintop Removal, and here to see how much of your energy consumption comes from the practice.

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